Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The World’s Scariest Beach – Sint Maarten, Caribbean

Extreme bronzing on Sint Maarten
Maho Beach on the Caribbean island of Sint Maartin has to be the least relaxing stretch of sand in the world. In fact, it manages to turn sunbaking into something of an adrenalin sport.
Most people who attempt to catch some rays on the beach place their towels on the far left or far right hand side. Don’t be tempted to opt for the spare spot in the middle though – that’s where the planes fly over.

Juliana International Airport
The beach is a very narrow strip. This is followed by a very narrow road. And that is followed by a great big runway. Yup, what makes Maho Beach so ‘interesting’ is that every few minutes, a plane lands at Juliana International Airport. It’s one of the biggest and busiest hubs in the Caribbean, and the planes fly so low over the beach that any minor misjudgement could see the landing gear dragging through the sand.

Jet blast warning signs
Maho is probably the only beach in the world with such a dire warning sign. Forget sharks and strong currents - the notices have a simple, stark message. “Jet blast of departing and arriving aircraft can cause severe physical harm resulting in extreme bodily harm and/or death.” Nice.
As the locals say, a pebble caught by that jet blast may as well be a bullet.

Sunset Beach Bar
It’s undeniably cool, though, especially when the huge Air France jumbo comes into land. Luckily you don’t have to be on the beach itself. Right next to it is the Sunset Beach Bar, which is something of an institution. It has top burgers, cheap-ish drinks and a party vibe.
More importantly, though, it makes an excellent viewing platform. The sunsets here are awesome, but watching the planes come in is even better. They look like they’re coming straight at you – especially at night when you can only see the lights – before diverting away at the very last second.
And that requires a stiff drink or eight...

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